We ask doctors in Dubai if traditional remedies really work
You can hardly enter a pharmacy these days without tripping over a mountain of cold and flu capsules. While we’re happy for medicinal progression and all, Time Out finds out if your mother’s home remedies carry any weight in today’s pill popping environs.
United States Chicken Soup Symptoms: Cold and flu Mama says: Mothers have tenderly served their own versions of these soups for temporary relief from just about everything – from a common cold to a broken heart. Doctor says: Dr Irwin Ziment, chief of medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Silmar, California, and an expert in respiratory pharmacology, points out that the physician Maimonides wrote, ‘Soup made from an old chicken is of benefit against chronic fevers’. Recent studies do suggest there’s an amino acid (possibly cysteine) in chicken soup that’s similar to a drug for respiratory infections.
Germany Wadenwickel Symptoms: Fever and delirium Mama says: Dip cotton towels in lukewarm water, wring gently and wrap them around the calves and shins. Leave the leg compresses on for 25 minutes. Doctor says: The evaporation of water from the compresses will reduce body temperature, but use this with care to avoid causing chills. Also, remember a high fever may indicate a more serious illness.
Greece Magic Tea Symptoms: Cold and flu Mama says: Boil two cups of water with a teaspoon of chamomile tea – loose leaves are preferred – and one strip of orange and/or lemon peel, a cinnamon stick, and three or four cloves. Then strain the liquid into a cup and serve with a teaspoon of honey and a few drops of Metaxa, which is a Greek brandy. Breathe in the soothing aromas and sip until finished. Doctor says: Increasing fluid intake is useful for colds and warm fluids may help with congestion. The small amount of vitamin C from the citrus peel probably doesn’t make much difference. As for the alcohol, as long as the problem is really just a minor cold, a small shot may help give some short-term relief. On the other hand, alcohol can be irritating to the stomach lining if someone is taking aspirin or ibuprofen.
Korea Yuja-Cha Tea Base Symptoms: Cold and flu Mama says: Take citron or mandarin peels, chop them up and add an equal part sugar (it doesn’t matter how much of either ingredient – just make sure they’re in equal parts). Let the mixture sit until the sugar dissolves, then put it in a jar in the fridge. Let it mature there for a month. Then use it as a base for hot tea whenever you’re not feeling well. Doctor says: The greatest benefit is replacing the fluids and the soothing effect of the liquid. The jury’s out on whether the fermentation process extracts or changes some chemicals in the peel.
Russia and the Ukraine Vinegar wipe Symptoms: Fever Mama says: Dip a cotton sheet into a mixture of half vinegar, half water (enough liquid to soak the sheet). Wipe it onto the body, with extra emphasis on the temples. Doctor says: This lowers the body’s temperature as it evaporates but exercise the same caution as the Wadenwickel. As for the vinegar, theoretically, it may slow evaporation, which may have some advantages, but this may not be very significant.
China Garlic clove Symptoms: Fever, headache, cold and flu. Mama says: Just munch on down onto one of these cloves and expect sinuses to clear, phlegm to ease and a general feeling of wellbeing. Despite being used to protect people from vampires, it’s been used by the Chinese for centuries to cure all of the above. Doctor says: Stinky breath aside, there’s quite significant medical weight behind the humble garlic clove. Dr Irwin Ziment believes that anything that makes your eyes water – garlic, hot peppers, wasabi, horseradish, mustard, ginger and even curry powder will break up congestion and flush out sinuses.